OCEAN CITY — After the inaugural Oceans Calling three-day beach music festival scheduled for late September was cancelled because of threatening weather, resort officials this week approved the same dates for next year at the producer’s request.
The first-ever Oceans Calling promised to be the biggest concert festival ever held in the resort. The three-day lineup included several front-liners including Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on Friday night, the Lumineers on Saturday night, Alanis Morrisette on Sunday and a couple of appearances by Maryland’s own O.A.R. along with numerous other bands practically around the clock on three stages in and around the Inlet on either side of the pier with the amusement park in between.
The stages were installed, sound systems set up, vendors in place and 40,000 tickets sold in the leadup to the inaugural event. However, the remnants of Hurricane Ian, coupled with a classic Nor’easter forced event producer C3 Presents, in conjunction with town officials, to cancel the first-ever Oceans Calling music festival just a day in advance of the opening act hitting the stage.
The decision, although difficult, proved to be the right one. The remnants of Hurricane Ian did reach the resort area by Friday and eventually evolved into a full-blown classic nor’easter, bringing heavy rain, high surf, beach erosion and flooding to the downtown area over five days. While the cancellation was necessary, it did little to mask the disappointment of the event producers, town officials and the estimated 40,000 fans who had purchased ticket packages, many of whom started getting their refunds in the last week or so.
When Oceans Calling was cancelled earlier, C3 Presents sent messages expressing a tacit interest in returning with a similar event on the same weekend next fall. This week, in advance of presenting a separate agenda item, Tourism and Business Development Director Tom Perlozzo gave the Mayor and Council good news about the Oceans Calling festival returning next year.
“I’d like to mention one thing and get some direction moving forward,” he said. “We did have a conversation and got some good news from C3 Presents this morning. They are requesting the same dates from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in 2023 to come back and do the beach concert festival Oceans Calling.”
Perlozzo said because of the scale and size of the festival, and the challenges in booking major acts so far in advance, C3 Presents expressed a desire to lock in the same dates for next year. Locking in the dates would also allow the town to begin preparing a memorandum of understanding outlining the responsibilities of the town and the promoters.
“If I can get approval on the dates, maybe we can move forward and address some of the issues we need to contractually,” he said.
Council Secretary Tony DeLuca asked if there was any consideration given to adding more dates and expanding the Oceans Calling festival.
“Is there a chance they can do two weeks?” he said. “Maybe they can do the week before also.”
Perlozzo said expanding the festival over two weeks was unlikely, but there was some flexibility in terms of adding more dates as the planning process moves along.
“At this point in the fall, probably not,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t discuss a later date or another date.”
City Manager Terry McGean explained the request for Oceans Calling for next fall was simply a date hold at this point to allow the company to market and pursue live music options.
“At this point, what they’re asking for is that we set those dates for them so they can begin to get acts together and begin the advertisements while the excitement from the last concert is still fresh in everyone’s mind,” he said. “That’s not to say other dates couldn’t be added, but they really want to get moving forward with this at a minimum.”
The council voted 5-0, with Council President Matt James due to the birth of his child and Councilman Mark Paddack absent due to his father’s passing, to approve the date hold for Oceans Calling for next fall.